Yes, that's right – 2019 is NetSupport's 30th birthday! So we thought it only fitting to mark the occasion by going all out to bring you a bundle of new features for NetSupport DNA's latest release (v4.7) and NetSupport School too, to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside now that the excitement of the festive period has finished…
Contextual intelligence-based Risk Index
So, what have we got for you? Well, we've pulled out all the stops for DNA's safeguarding module and introduced some pretty significant new features. The first one takes school filtering and monitoring up a gear by using elements of artificial intelligence to deliver the concept of 'contextual intelligence', which we've applied to our new Risk Index. This index helps safeguarding leads by examining the context and history of a student's activities – from the devices used, time of day, and websites visited (including previous alerts they may have triggered) – and, from this information, creates a risk index number; the higher the number, the more at risk that student is. A high-risk index could result if a child has repeatedly researched a safeguarding topic (e.g. suicide) out of hours, in an unmonitored setting such as the library, but a lower index rating could result from a student searching a lower risk keyword in a local application during school hours that may have been used for curriculum topics. We're the first software vendor to use this kind of 'contextual intelligence' and we're proud of that!
We've kept the monitoring and assessment of these alerts secure by ensuring they are dealt with locally in school by the safeguarding staff who know their students (no third-party services required). The index allows them to focus on high-risk alerts (where there is more likely to be a genuine risk) and to apply their professional judgement when deciding what the next steps for a particular student should be.
Cloud-based safeguarding console
Secondly, DNA now has an all-new cloud-based safeguarding console. This allows safeguarding staff to access key information and alerts from triggers across the school’s local network while on the go. This fully secure, Azure-hosted console also includes a smartphone-optimised user interface to help staff to quickly search for a specific child and review any recent alerts or concerns - thereby enabling a speedier response when an urgent phrase or keyword is triggered by a vulnerable student.
Android Browser app
Thirdly, for school IT technicians, we've extended the platforms DNA supports by introducing a new Android browser app for monitoring and managing Android device activity. The app gathers a full hardware/software inventory from Android devices and enables real-time monitoring via thumbnail views, as well as including Report a Concern, Phrase Monitoring, Safeguarding Resources, Chat and Message features. All the data the app collects is sent dynamically to the local NetSupport DNA server where it stays until it's needed for reporting within the Console.
Mac Agent: In response to customers' feedback and suggestions, we've also included a bundle of enhancements in the latest release of NetSupport DNA. The Mac Agent already provides inventory and real-time monitoring plus safeguarding features; however, this latest update includes improved deployment using third-party tools such Apple Remote Desktop – making it even easier to set up and configure your school’s Mac devices.
Windows: And as if that wasn't enough, we've also added a shedload of enhancements to DNA's Windows version! Just some of these include detecting whether volumes on hard drives/USB drives are encrypted (BitLocker); and enabling power management and internet metering features to be set to 15-minute interval, rather than 30 minutes. The ‘Find PC/Users’ tool now automatically selects matching entries in the hierarchy (as searches are no longer case sensitive); and the Chat feature shows the username of the logged-in user (not just the PC name). Plus, the new ‘Search facility’ added into Software Packages makes them easier to find, while the install date of Hotfixes is now shown in a devices Software Inventory, helping to highlight which devices have received updates.
Safeguarding: We've improved the “Review” triggered phrases interface to make reviewing items simpler for safeguarding staff – plus, the world cloud can now show triggered phrases, colour-coded based on word priority, to make it easier to spot high-risk trending keywords.
As many of you know, NetSupport School is a full classroom management solution in its own right that’s also available as an optional extra that integrates directly into NetSupport DNA. As part of our updates package, we've given it a brand-new a new ‘universal’ Student app available from the Windows 10 Store, as well as extended support for Chromebooks. And to ensure a quicker start to lessons in a BYOD environment or when laptop carts are used, we've included integration with leading Student Information Systems, so that an expected list of students is automatically supplied for the start of each lesson.
We know that many schools work with a mix of classroom devices, so we've built on that by introducing NetSupport School for Mac. This gives teachers the flexibility to connect to their students' Macs, PCs or Chromebooks directly from their Apple device and ensures that schools only need a single solution to manage all their devices.
You'll be able to see all of these features very soon if you're attending the Bett show at the end of the month – on stands D120 and D130. If you're not going, don’t worry: get in touch here and we'll give you an online demonstration!